Tuesday 12 February 2013

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente

 Paperback, 344 pages
Published January 17th 2013 by Much-In-Little
CHAPTER I EXEUNT IN A ROWBOAT, PURSUED BY CROWS In Which a Girl Named September Keeps a Secret, Has a Difficult Time at School, Turns Thirteen, and Is Finally Nearly Run over by a Rowboat, Thereby Finding Her Way into Fairyland Once upon a time, a girl named September had a secret. Now, secrets are delicate things. They can fill you up with sweetness and leave you like a cat who has found a particularly fat sparrow to eat and did not get clawed or bitten even once while she was about it. But they can also get stuck inside you, and very slowly boil up your bones for their bitter soup. Then the secret has you, not the other way around. So we may be very glad that September had the better of her secret, and carried it with her like a pair of rich gloves which, when she was cold, she could take out and slip on to remember the warmth of days gone by. September’s secret was this: She had been to Fairyland.
Summary from GoodReads
September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows—and their magic—to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s
shadows back. Fans of Valente’s bestselling, first Fairyland book will revel in the lush setting, characters, and language of September’s journey, all brought to life by fine artist Ana Juan. Readers will also welcome back good friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. But in Fairyland Below, even the best of friends aren’t always what they seem. . . .
Reviewed by K. M. Lockwood
Just by reading the extract and looking at the cover, you will know if ‘The girl who Fell beneath Fairyland and led the Revels there.’ is likely to appeal to you. It has a quirky Victorian-style narrator who talks to you the Reader, intriguing summaries at the top of each chapter and is quite as ornate verbally as the images by Ana Juan.
 I hadn’t read the first book – The girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making – but I would say you don’t need to read it to appreciate this book. I am sure it would improve your appreciation of the story – but it’s not necessary in order to follow the self-contained plot. 
 The storyline is complex with echoes of Greek myth and Alice in Wonderland and any amount of fairy tales. A glorious mash-up which you can read as rollicking good fun – but I think it has layers of deeper meanings too. It really does span a large age–range providing the reader is comfortable with Catherynne M. Valente’s distinctive voice.
 It is definitely not for lovers of sparse prose and hard-edged realism.
 It is a concoction full of strange and wonderful characters: Glasswort Groof, a goblin; Aubergine, a Night Dodo and Nod, the Dream-Eating Tapir, for example. The settings are equally dreamlike and lovingly brought to life.
 The authoress assumes her readership will cope with complex sentences and curious vocabulary – quite rightly. There is enough momentum in the story to make you want to read on and enjoy the scenery too. The core of the story has great heart.  It could well be read aloud to younger listeners with enjoyment.
I would highly recommend this to those who loved Lauren Oliver’s The Spindlers and Frances Hardinge’s A Face like Glass – whatever their age. Suitable for all lovers of fantasy and fine writing.
An extra note: on July 27, 2011, a short prequel was published as an e-book by Tor.com, and is available to read there: The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland—For a Little While

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this review - I've often wondered about these books - the titles are so lovely - but have never been totally sure if the style is quite my cup of tea. Maybe I should try and get it from the library!


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